The number of people unemployed in Lee County jumped by nearly 5,000 in the month following Hurricane Ian, raising the county’s unemployment rate by more than a full point.
According to a report from Florida’s Department of Economic Opportunity, 14,624 people were unemployed in the county in October compared to 9,673 in September. The unemployment rate rose from 2.6% to 3.9%.
Although the report does not specifically refer to Ian, damaged caused by the hurricane has decimated large parts of the economy in the county, especially along the coast, with retailers, restaurants and hotels still closed and people struggling to rebuild.
While much of Southwest Florida was affected by the storm, the state data shows that at least initially Lee suffered the most when it came to job losses. The number of people unemployed in Collier County rose by 591 — 4,889 to 5,480 — in October and by 820 — 2,287 to 3,107 — in Charlotte.
Several other counties that were hard hit also saw very small increases in the number of unemployed between September and October.
Statewide, the non-seasonally adjusted number of unemployed rose in October to 287,000 from 277,000 and the unemployment rate ticked up one-tenth of a percent to 2.7%.